What is Senate Bill 2508? So it puts a constraint on how you optimize and operate Lake Okeechobee. It elevates water supply above all other system-wide objectives for lake operations. Three years of collective stakeholder work on LOSOM would be overridden forcing water supply guarantees in the EAA that consists primarily of sugarcane. Oh yeah, and if the SFWMD doesn’t conform, no money for CERP projects.
Today I offer Senate Bill 2580 Environmental Resources, which is part of Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations in “black and white.”
First, I share the easy to understand “Background and Effects” of the Bill that was given to me by South Florida Water Management staff at the beginning of the Governing Board Meeting, Thursday, February 10, 2022.
Fourth, highlights of Senate Bill 2508 Environmental Resources include lines 246-273 and 336-351
Fifth, highlights of Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations include section 1647.
Sixth, I offer the response of Governor Ron DeSantis that was also provided to me at the beginning of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board meeting held Thursday, February 10, 2022. It is time to fight for our estuaries once again. Watch the SFWMD meeting here statrting at 1:23.
C-44 Reservoir, Martin County, FL, 1-19-22, aerial by Ed Lippisch. (Plane: Piper Lance belonging to Dr. Shaun Engebretsen.)Last Wednesday, on January 19, 2022, I received a text from my husband, Ed. The text was brief: “C-44 with water.”
I looked at the message and the photographs and being swamped with reading, I ignored both.
On Saturday, January 22, my brother, Todd, texted me: “They have been bringing lake water into the C-44 basin most of the week via S-308 at Port Mayaca. Now it’s closed and S-80 is open at 811 cfs? This is called “local basin runoff,” to the St Lucie, hopefully just a little blip.”This time, I put down my reading. I called my contacts at the SFWMD and the ACOE to find out what was going on. The ACOE was filling up the C-44 Reservoir via a “high”Lake Okeechobee through S-308 and the C-44 Canal. After a few days, a rainstorm hit, so the ACOE opened the S-80 gates at St Lucie Locks and Dam to get the C-44 Canal level down. Hmmm?
The photos taken from the Piper Lance show the C-44 Reservoir as it was filled on January 19th, 2022. It must be much higher now, six days later.
The filling -for the first time- of the C-44 Reservoir is historic. The C-44 Reservoir is the first major CERP project that was completed by the ACOE and their partners – right here in Martin County.
Part of Indian River Lagoon South, this massive project, and in the future, the EAA Reservoir, give real hope for a better water future: more water flowing south to the Everglades and fewer damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
Check out these photographs!
Below, I have included three photos from November 26, 2021 that Ed took when he still had the Beechcraft Baron. These photos were taken when the C-44 Reservoir was just a” little bit full” in November after the ACOE’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on November 19, 2021.
~NOT SO FULL, 11-26-21.
THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE SHARED TO COMPARE THE “FULLER” PHOTOS ABOVE FROM JANUARY 19, 2022, TO THE “NOT SO FULL” PHOTOS OF NOVEMBER 26, 2021. Ed Lippisch.
NOAA describes Lidar – Light Detection and Ranging- as a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the Earth. My brother, http://eyeonlakeo.com, Todd Thurlow, shared such an image, of South Florida, during the October meeting of the Rivers Coalition http://riverscoalition.org. Looking at the image, Todd noted that the elevations displayed have not changed in over 5000 years. One can clearly “see” where the water used to go and not go. The tiny St Lucie River on Florida’s east coast was isolated from Lake Okeechobee by a ridge only to be connected to the lake in 1923 by the C-44 Canal -that can also be seen in this image. This why on the east coast we stand strong in saying #nolakeo. We never were and prefer to be unconnected.
-St Lucie Inlet to Atlantic looking beautiful at this time day. Note nearshore reefs.
-Crossroads’ confluence of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, S. Sewall’s Point – note lack of lush seagrass meadows
Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River– heavy rains causing discoloration
Beechcraft Baron, Ed Lippisch, August 21, 2021, 3:30pm
-Looking towards Stuart over Sewall’s Point, SLR/IRL. Sailfish Point Marina left corner.-Sailfish Flats- note shades of seagrasses but no lush meadows-brown coloration -Over Atlantic-Indian River Lagoon lies east of Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River lies west -Various views
-One can see river’s proximity to Witham Field in Stuart. These photos show darkness of St Lucie due to stormwater runoff off lands and canals C-23. C-24, and C-44. No Lake O discharges.
-St Lucie Inlet
-Stuart Sandbar with many boaters. Water is dark with stormwater and canal runoff but remains to recreational standards.
-West now over S-308, Port Mayaca, Lake O – no visible algae from altitude of 1500 feet. Satellite images do show algae on west and middle of lake. SEE my brother Todd’s website EYEONELAKEO for all info. -Although water looks good at St Luice Inlet at an incoming tide, the estuary is suffering from too much input. Read Florida Oceanographic’s update for details.
Today, August 22, 2021 Lake Okeechobee is at 14.39 feet. This recent TCPalm article by Ed Killer gives insights based on a recent media conference with Col. Kelly of the ACOE.
Aerial SLR/IRL near St Lucie Inlet, courtesy Dr Scott Kuhns, 8-11-21.One of the difficult things about trying to keep an eye on the St Lucie River’s health is that destructive forces are coming from so many directions. It’s basically a “three front war.” During and after heavy rains, water is water pouring in, unfiltered, from the northwest, C-23, C-24, and C-25, and also from the southwest through C-44. When things are really bad, and the lake is high, the ACOE can discharge Lake Okeechobee as well. Some may consider this a two front war as Lake O and C-44 basin water are discharged through the same canal (C-44) but as they are separate “animals,” I consider it three.
So in recent weeks, as the rainy season has arrived, C-23, 24, and C-25 have been discharging stormwater runoff form the northwest, and now that C-44 is lower than Lake O (14. 38 feet), the ACOE’s operation is discharging C-44 too. Not yet, has the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee.
If you have been out on the river you have probably noticed the color is darker and it is going to get even darker as C-44 basin runoff also enters the river.
There are CERP projects set to improve these situations, the C-44 Reservoir and the C-23/24/25 Reservoirs. The C-44 Reservoir will be on line by the end of this year so long as when the ACOE starts filling it up this October, all goes well. The C-23/24/25 are in design and if the economy holds out and our advocacy continues should be done by 2030 or a couple of years before. This is great news! Also the EAA Reservoir, that will accept waters form Lake Okeechobee sending south, should break ground this year and is slated to be complete by 2028. The SFWMD is already well into building the storm water treatment component as the local partner in all of these projects. Thus relief is on the horizon, but until these all up and running, it’s the same old —-.
Below is a slide from the most recent SFWMD Governing Board Meeting on August 12. Mr Glenn’s slide shows how much runoff was entering the St Lucie. The number is 2432 cubic feet per second daily flow. Over 1400 or 2000 is “off the cuff” considered “destructive.” And now C-44 basin is coming in on top of this. This began through S-80 this Saturday, thus the C-44 runoff is unaccounted for in this slide.
We can look at my brother, Todd Thurlow’s, website and see in real time (almost) how much C-44 water is entering the St Lucie. Yesterday, when I texted Todd at 11pm it was 1049.18 acre feet on 8/14 and 1043.31 acre feet on 8/15. Sorry to be going from cfs to acre feet, but the bottom line is -this is a ton of water that never entered the St Lucie before the canals were dug. These canals are what is what is killing our river as they carry agricultural fertilizers and pesticides together with all the pollution coming from our yards: septic tank effluent, fertilizer, pesticides-FDOT road runoff too!
These aerial were taken from the SuperCub by Dr Scott Kuhns last Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and this is before Saturday when S-80 began discharging to the St Lucie for the C-44 “basin.” Bottom line, the St Lucie is now in a two front war against the northern and western canals, let’s fight for it not to become three. #NoLakeO to the St Lucie. Compare what the river looked on July 28, 201 and as the rains began.
Aerials August 11, 2021, Dr Scott Kuhns
Crossroads SLR/IRL-South Sewall’s Point-Looking south towards Jupiter Narrows-St Lucie Inlet with plume but still able to see nearshore reefs north of inlet-St Lucie Inlet with plume but plenty of blue water-note this is prior to C-44 basin runoff-St Lucie Inlet
LAKE OKEECHOBEE same day. Algae visible in lake off Port Mayaca and S-308 structure-View of S-308 no algae visible from this altitude-Close up of water near S-308. See GPS below.
RAIN RAIN RAIN
Friday night, August 13, 2021, my rain-gage in South Sewall’s Point overflowed! More the 7 inches of rain fell in about three hours causing flash flooding in Martin County, FL. These rains are now exiting our canals.
Viewing Algae on Recent Flights Across Lake Okeechobee
My husband, Ed, flew twice recently over Lake Okeechobee on his way to Lee County from Martin County. Once on August 8, and again on August 10, 2021. I asked Ed to snap a few photos to document what the lake looked like from the air. In the images below you can see Ed’s flight path and pictures taken. As Ed says, “the lake is lighting up,” his expression for algae growth. To see daily, easy to find and easy to read satellite Lake O algae images, please view my brother’s website eyeonlakeo. We continue to document Lake Okeechobee and to fight its destructive discharges. On call since 2013, there is no giving up!
ACOE Power Point Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM)
This pdf file is being shared for those who may not have attended yesterday’s web meeting. Please see link in blue below for power point slides as presented by Col. Andrew Kelly on August 9, 2021. This is process is for a new Lake Okeechobee operating schedule moving beyond “CC.” I know it is confusing. But reading the slides will help!
Ed, Scott, and I, part of your River Warrior team since 2013, continue to visually document the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by air. Although due to algae at the gates of Port Mayaca the ACOE’s lake schedule has not subjected the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee discharges since April 10, 2021, the rains and stormwater runoff from surrounding lands and canals C-23, C-24 are flowing. I know I am not an official keeper of rain, however, the rain gauge in my garden has displayed significant rain over Sewall’s Point in the past weeks. See ACOE & SFWMD recent official documents below.
Today I will share aerials from Dr Scott Kuhns. A view from the Super-Cub. These aerials reflect a visual change in the water color due to the rain. The water is darker and contains sediment, and all other that runs off roads and lawns, and agriculture fields out west. Sometimes over a million acre-feet of discharge a years can come from C-23 and C-24 alone! We do not need any Lake O discharges on top of this. C-44 runoff (see canal map at end of this blog post) is probably on the way as when the canal level is lower than the lake it is usually made to flow in our direction. Right now the lake is at 13.87 feet. Two tropical systems are being watched. Hopefully, we will not have a hurricane! The river over all has been looking great! Seagrasses slowly returning. Better fishing reports.
It is important we stay on top of things. Continue to advocate! Learn all you need to know about #LakeO on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo.
Dr Scott Kuhns, SLR/IRL, yesterday, August 5, 2021 at 10:00 am. Note Atlantic remains blue in color and St Lucie Inlet as well but there is a plume. The estuary and Crossroads of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon-they are more impacted. The final photo of St Lucie Locks and Dam’s S-80 structure is inland and thank goodness remains closed! Thank you Dr Scott Kunhs for being our eye in the sky and longtime River Warrior documenter!
Documenting the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, 2021
Dr Scott Kuhns sent me aerials he took from the St Lucie Inlet this morning, July 28, 2021, at 10am from 2500 feet. Although due to rain there is local basin runoff and C-23/24 dumping into the St Lucie River, there is not Lake Okeechobee discharge mostly due to the presence of algae. So we have been fortunate and our waters have been looking great. So blue! Beechcraft Baron
The second batch of photos I already shared on Facebook. My husband Ed took these photos Saturday, July 24, 2021, from about 1500 feet. Seagrass is budding back! One sees the darker colored runoff water inside the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but again, there is no Lake Okeechobee water thus still blue out over the nearshore reefs and closer to the St Lucie Inlet/Atlantic Ocean. Last, I will share Ed’s aerials inland of Lake Okeechobee taken on July 24, 2021 as well. The lake aerials show algae along the shoreline, but not so much further out. We must heal all our waters including this lake!
Hopefully there will not be a hurricane this season, and the waters of the St Lucie can continue to recover from previous long-lasting Lake Okeechobee discharges. In any case, Scott, Ed, and I will continue to document.
Thank you pilots!
In closing, I must admit that for my whole life, my favorite color has been green, but I love when it’s blue!
Learn all you need to know on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo Click on image to see Lake O and C-44 discharges so far in 2021.
As I continue my now popular retrospective series “Keeping Alive the Power of the Pubic Voice,” the next St Lucie River rally documented in my LOST SUMMER photo archives is dated August 20, 2013 –Ten days after the Beach Rally and and seventeen days after the first Rally at the Locks.
This was the infamous “riverlution” rally at the the St Lucie Locks and Dam when Governor Rick Scott visited. Just days prior to this, TCPalm put out their STOP KILLING OUR LAGOON issue. These were indeed incredible times! Below is an excerpt I saved from WPTV reporter Jeff Skrzpek, and some of my archived photos. Many people you’ll see in the photographs continue today to work for a better St Lucie River and Everglades LOSOM system.
The St Lucie “Lost Summer” led to significant changes to Florida water policy as we shall we in upcoming post. The recent wave started in Martin County and continues to crash ashore today.
Excerpt, August 20, 2013 – WPTV
STUART, Fla. — – “Hundreds lined the road, armed with signs and chanted loudly as Governor Rick Scott zoomed by more than 300 protesters on his way to tour the St. Lucie Lock.
“Save our river!” screamed the crowd as the hot sun beamed down sweaty backs.
After arriving, Governor Scott was rushed into fenced area, topped with barbed wire fencing, walking away from the crowd without acknowledging any of the concerned residents. The chants turned from being loud to all out anger…”
-Jeff Skrzypek, WPTV
Below” screen shot of TCPalm’s STOP KILLING OUR LAGOON SERIES. Note Eve Samples! I see Larry Reisman and I think that’s Ed Killer in the back. It is hard for me to see and recognize the others with my now “old eyes.” 🙂
I’ve had so many calls and reactions to my recent post “Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice,” that I’m going to keep sharing my photo archives of the “Riverlution.” Yes, today’s modern Florida water advocacy all started here in Martin County.
This next set of archived photos is dated August 10, 2013, Lost Summer (only seven days after the Rally at the Locks,) and labeled “Beach Rally for the River.” Photos reveal a large crowd at Stuart Beach and aerials of a black coffee/green algae St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Terrible!
For me, one of the all time most inspirational photos is in this collection. I am displaying it as the first one. It shows a little boy raising his arms in glee towards the sky as Ed’s original River Warrior -the yellow Cub- plane passes overhead and the flag flies! Save Our River! We are working not just for ourselves but for the future. Please keep the power of the public voice alive for all our Everglades’ rivers during the optimization of LOSOM. The voice of the people must direct policy and we must continue to lead the way!
(Email to comment: LakeOComments@usace.army.mil)
Beach Rally for the River, August 10, 2013, Stuart, Florida (Thurlow archives)